"There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself."- kushandwizdom
Whenever Kinda and I prepare to lead one of our 30-day self-care challenges, we meet to divide the responsibilities. Each challenge begins with an intro day, where we welcome our participants, followed by weekly deep dives into one of The Four Seeds of Self-Care, and finishing with an outro day of gratitude and continued encouragement. When preparing for our May 1st "Perfectly Imperfect" challenge, Kinda suggested that we divide the load amongst ourselves based on the seeds we find the most challenging. "We know because we know, not because we know better" is a statement we often use in our workshops and retreats. The aim is to help our clients understand that they are not alone in the continuous struggle to put self-care first in their lives. However, with all the demands of daily life, whether it is in family, business, or otherwise, it is imperative that we strive to seek healthy ways of managing and reducing the stress of those demands.
Sleep has been an aspect of self-care that I have wrestled with in one way or another for as long as I can remember. Don't misunderstand. I have no problems falling asleep. It's the waking up part that is my constant challenge. When I was a kid, I used to fall asleep at my desk in school. I knew how to position myself just right so my teacher would think I was simply resting my chin in my hand, making it look like I was deeply focused on the notes or books on my desk. Two things would inevitably give away the fact that I had fallen asleep in class- either my teacher would ask me a question and I wouldn't have the faintest idea what they were talking about, or I would start nodding off, causing my head to slip out of my hand and my hand to come crashing down on the desk, drawing attention to myself, and then having to deal with the teacher's wrath and my classmates' chiding remarks. In college, I struggled to wake up in the mornings for class. So much so, my roommates refused to bother to wake me- first, because it was impossible, and second, because I was known to cuss them out WHILE I was sleeping for trying to get me up! To this day, I don't remember having done that, but I have been told of my obscenity shouting slumbers enough times to know that it must be true.
"If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you."- Author unknown
As an adult, I have a tendency to covet sleep above all else- my work, my passions, my mental health. My body has no problem at all sleeping for twelve hours straight. But when I sleep too much I feel groggy the rest of the day, causing my mood to be cranky, which leads to irritability towards my daily tasks and the people in my house. This sets me up to feel like a failure on a professional level and breeds shame on a personal level from the destructive behaviors I've chosen concerning the careless treatment of my relationships. All because I don't do what I know is best for me both physically and mentally, and that is to simply WAKE UP EARLIER! It's a cycle that is repeated over and over again, and one that has the power to destroy my abilities to accomplish my goals, foster meaningful relationships, and connect with my community if I am not diligent in challenging myself, whenever necessary, to make sure that doesn't happen. For example, I'm falling asleep at this very moment, struggling to get these blog thoughts down. It may or may not show through my writing. However, that isn't what is most important. What will and does matter most is that I recognize what is happening and I am choosing on this day to make a decision to do something different, having tortured myself enough times to understand that there is no growth in continuing to behave in ways that have proven destructive time and time again.
As our May self-care challenge nears, I invite you to take inventory of your life. Of The Four Seeds of Self-Care- nutrition, exercise, meditation, and sleep, which one(s) are most challenging for you to consistently incorporate into a daily routine? Will you decide that it is time to stop the cycle of destructive behavior patterns, and replace them with new thoughts and actions that WILL lead to a higher level of productivity and appreciation for yourself, your loved ones, and your community? It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Nothing changes if we don't first decide to change. I may be falling asleep as I'm writing this, but it isn't because I haven't had enough sleep. I have had plenty of sleep, and if I continue to challenge myself by changing my behaviors, I will find that what is healthiest for me is when my brain is healthy enough to cause me to feel good longer and more often. I am proud to report that I am on my fourth day of waking up early, a pattern that historically has worked for me and that I have relapsed from more times than I can count. But it will not hinder my recognition of the success of my current efforts. Small victories count. Self-care is not perfect. Interestingly, the more we surrender the need for perfection, the more likely we are to succeed. Done is better than perfect. It is in the commitment to consistently question and challenge our thoughts and behaviors that we will cultivate satisfaction with ourselves and delight in our lives.
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel